Former NY senator pleads guilty to fraud charges
NEW YORK (AP) — A disgraced New York politician who was expelled from the state Senate after a misdemeanor conviction for assaulting his girlfriend pleaded guilty in a separate case Friday to using taxpayer money to fund an unsuccessful 2006 campaign.
"At the time I knew my conduct was wrong and not legal, and I take full responsibility for my actions," Queens Democrat Hiram Monserrate told a federal judge in Manhattan.
Monserrate, 44, faces about two years in prison under sentencing guidelines. Sentencing was set for Sept. 14.
The corruption case stemmed from when Monserrate was a City Council member. In 2006, he directed $300,000 in council discretionary funds to a group in his Queens district, the Latino Initiative for Better Resources and Empowerment, or LIBRE.
An indictment alleged that more than $100,000 was secretly funneled to Monserrate's failed Senate primary race. It says LIBRE spent $30,000 on a petition drive and $31,000 to register voters for the councilman.
The group paid another $48,000 in salary to employees "for doing pretty much nothing else except working on the campaign," U.S. Attorney Brett Bharara said at the time the fraud charges were announced.
Monserrate, a former New York Police Department officer, was elected in 2008 to the state Senate. In 2009, he was convicted of misdemeanor assault and sentenced to three years on probation for dragging his bleeding girlfriend through a hallway in his apartment building.
Monserrate was ousted from the Senate in early 2010 on a 53-8 vote.